PC Magazine columnist John C. Dvorak misses the point in his criticism of the One Laptop Per Child project
As a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom who has provided humanitarian assistance to communities in South Asia, I can tell you this: one of the most powerful tools you can give people is access to information. A cheap piece of technology, such as a shortwave radio, can be invaluable for villages, teaching them about the outside world, democracy, freedom of choice, the right to free speech, and about the power of education. These ideas alone help communities realize that insurgents who used to be the ruling party in their country have kept them in the dark, controlling them by keeping ideas of freedom away.
No, these ideas are not “Western propaganda” or “brainwashing”, as the region has its own radio stations in local languages. By instinct, human beings want to be free and have choices. It does not take propaganda to instill those instincts. As the production of textbooks also relies on technology (the printing press), shortwave radios or laptops are only a logical evolutionary step in distributing knowledge to the people of the world. Perhaps Mr. Dvorak would suggest that we keep printed materials away from these countries as well. However, since obviously he has not had the personal experience of being confronted by village elders who asked for supplies for a coed public school before asking for food from the Coalition Forces, I will simply dismiss his opinion of the OLPC project as a poorly-researched, credibility-lacking, sophomoric effort in producing technology commentary.